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OsgoodePD Looks to the Future as it Builds on its Historical Strength in Online Learning

April 20, 2022

Roz Bahrami

Long before anyone had heard of COVID-19, OsgoodePD was bringing Professional LLMs into students’ homes.

In the last two decades, we have helped hundreds of people complete their studies via videoconferencing technology in places as far flung as the Cayman Islands, a Saskatchewan farm, rural Italy, and the mountains of B.C., among many more locations.

Building on its well-developed distance option, OsgoodePD made an unusually smooth transition as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and is now poised to capitalize on its long experience providing both excellent technical support and creating high-quality online first courses.

Technological excellence

Paul Wye, OsgoodePD’s Manager of Information Technology & Innovation, has spent years building the kind of exceptional technical support that has allowed faculty and students alike to engage in online learning with confidence and ease.

Wye and his team aim to iron out any problems in advance of term time. And staff are also on hand to respond immediately to critical issues arising during class.

“We’ve done our job well if we get to 7 p.m., when it’s time for classes to start, and the support line is quiet. By keeping our finger on the pulse of what’s going on with everyone, we can proactively catch problems before they happen,” Wye says.

“Our goal is to make the technology work for people, so that when you go to class, you can focus on the meat of the course, as opposed to the way it’s being offered.”

Wye is committed to continuous improvement, regularly reviewing program needs and technological innovations that support distance and hybrid learning.

“The design of our programs has never been set-and-forget. The pandemic saw us shift to the fourth version of the technology which powers our programming since it began. From its inception, we have worked to stay abreast of technological advances and have never been afraid to invest in the goal of ensuring our students are having the best experience possible, while maintaining high academic standards. It has often been the case that visiting faculty remark on how advanced our instructional experience is relative to other organizations with which they have worked, and to date one of the most common sentiments expressed by students is that their experience exceeds their expectations.”

Quality online-focused course content

OsgoodePD’s commitment to excellent technical support is matched only by its commitment to excellence in teaching. Online learning never has been – and never will be – an afterthought at OsgoodePD. Our goal is to give our students a comparable Professional LLM experience, wherever they are in the world.

That means the distance students in our active seminar-style courses are incorporated into class discussions and breakout group work, as well as individual and group presentations.

Audrey Fried, OsgoodePD’s Director of Faculty & Curriculum Development, helps instructors recognize the difference between online and in-person learning, and to tweak their teaching materials to ensure all participants are getting the most out of the class.

After the country locked down in March 2020, Fried intensified her work, running a month-long program for faculty redesigning their classes to teach remotely. The response from faculty was overwhelming and the capacity and expertise developed during the pandemic spurred new courses, new ways of teaching, and new ways of connecting with students.

“Distance learning has limitations if you try to import in-person teaching wholesale. But it also has its own strengths and when you leverage those strengths, it can be fantastic in its own way,” Fried says.

“I would never say that one medium is better than the other. The trick is to use each one to do what it does best.”

For example, building an online forum discussion into a program gives students the chance to take a deeper dive into complex topics than they might do following a live conversation.

“One thing I’ve highlighted for faculty is the tremendous opportunity to incorporate collaborative work into online learning. Using shared documents or collaborative annotation, students can work together to mark up a document, solve a problem, or create a legal resource,” Fried adds.

With the return of much of its in person programming, OsgoodePD has no plans to scale back its online learning initiatives. To the contrary OsgoodePD is enthusiastically moving forward to increase access to its programs, incorporating the learning strategies that leverage the strengths of online learning to improve and expand its offerings.

Want to learn more about OsgoodePD’s Online Learning?